History and Development
Dandies were first heard of as an established breed in the late 1700’s in the Coquet Water district of Northumberland when they were largely in the hands of the Border “muggers” or tinkers who used them for drawing and killing badgers, otters and foxes. It must have been in those days that the Dandie developed his proverbial courage and tremendous strength of jaw.
Most Dandie breeders know of Piper Allan, a colorful character of those days, and of his two famous Dandies, Charlie and Peachem. Hut the outstanding figure in the Dandie world of that era was fames Davidson of Hindlee, who kept a large number of the Pepper and Mustard terriers as they were known then and had the odd notion of calling them all Pepper and Mustard, varied with adjectives “big, little, young, old” etc. Davidson’s Dandies were the true descendants of Piper Allan’s breed and they provide a link between the Dandies of the 18th century and now, as records and pedigrees were kept and handed down to the present day.
Sir Walter Scott obtained several Dandie Dinmonts as they now began to be called, from Davidson and there are many references to them and the litters he bred, in his letters and private writings. From now on Dandies came into prominence and began to be widely bred; they also tame into the hands of more distinguished owners. The Dukes of Roxburghe and Buccleugh owned Dandies and it was the Duke of Buccleugh’s Old Pepper, found in a trap by a keeper, who founded the celebrated Old Ginger line from which almost all the present-day winners descend.
Dandie Dinmont Terrier: Color
Dandies are of two colors, pepper and mustard, the peppers ranging from a pale gray to almost black and the mustards from pale fawn to a rich red-gold. Black peppers and “washy” mustards are not liked and black hair on a mustard is frowned on. Peppers generally have tan feet and legs and sometimes tan patches on each side of the muzzle. White feet, now very rare, are a bad fault but puppies often have some white on the chest which usually fades as the Dandle grows. When mating Dandies, it is best, though not absolutely essential, to cross the colors.
Dandie Dinmont Terrier: Care
This is very simple and consists of regular thorough grooming with a stiff brush and fairly fine comb and a coarser comb for the silky topknot on the head. The old dead coat should be removed with finger and thumb when it is loose and ready to come; the undercoat will then grow and the “linty” top-coat will come through and break it up. A trimming knife or scissors spell ruination to a Dandie’s coat and should never be used. Rough hair on the ears should be removed with the fingers and the ear trimmed round, leaving a “tassel” on the end.
Dandie Dinmont Terrier: Character
The Dandie is very much an individual of strong character. Though generally polite and friendly to strangers, all his devotion is reserved for his owner but that owner must win his respect as well as his affection if he is to get the best out of him. He retains much of the courage and shrewdness of his rugged Border forebears and has great commonsense, and a sense of humor. His working qualities are still to the fore and Dandies are still worked to fox in Scotland. The Dandie does not do well bred in large numbers and confined to kennel and run. He is an excellent house clog and his deep hark gives intruders the impression of a much larger dog.
Dandie Dinmont Terrier: Standards
The Dandie Standard was drawn up in 1875 by men who worked their Handles and knew what was wanted in a dog bred to go to ground and tackle fox and badger. Except for slight variations in weight, it has never been altered. In almost every way, it differs from the Standards of other terrier breeds and should he carefully studied by anyone aspiring to judge the breed. The short level back of most terriers is quite wrong on a Dandie whose body should be “long, strong and flexible with a decided arch over the loins” enabling him to twist and turn underground. A “digging front’ is needed, his strong, slightly crooked forelegs enabling him to throw the earth out to each side of him so that it does not block his egress. At the same time, he sould never be out at elbows or unsound in front. His forelegs are slightly shorter than his hind ones and the paws are unusually large for a small dog. His coat is “limy”, not harsh, with pencilled top-coat and soft under-coat making a weather-resisting combination.
The Dandie’s great beauty is his large domed head covered with a white silky top-knot and his large, round, lustrous eyes with their expression of great determination, intelligence and dignity. Their color should b rich dark hazel, a hard black eye being nearly as unpleasing as a light one. His teeth are unusually large for a small dog and he has an incredibly powerful jaw; he is a big dog in miniature. Weight limits are from 16 (18 in U.S.A.) to 24 lbs., about 20 lbs. being considered the best weight for dogs in good working condition.
Height 8″ to 11″, length from top of shoulder to tail-root not more than twice the height, preferably one or two inches less.
Selections from the book: “The World Encyclopedia of Dogs” (1971)